Baptism in the Holy Spirit

When you read the gospels, you become impressed with the life that Jesus led, but unimpressed with the lives of the disciples! They were not an impressive band of brothers – when their leader was arrested, they scattered and ran away! Yet there was an extraordinary turning point that led to these very unimpressive guys into powerful and courageous exploits.

The turning point was the Holy Spirit coming and filling the disciples. They would have known about the Holy Spirit already from the Scriptures – we read in the Old Testament about people such as David, Gideon, Samson, Moses and others being empowered and enabled by the Spirit. They were ordinary people who did extraordinary things when the Spirit came upon them.

So when Jesus told the disciples to wait – to not even start – until they had power, they would have had some knowledge of what He was saying to them. The prophet Joel had said hundreds of years before that the outpouring of the Spirit would, in the days to come, no longer be reserved for special people, such as kings and priests, but would be for all people, for sons and daughters. There was going to be a supernatural dimension that would make this an unprecedented, broad experience for the least to the greatest.

We live in that time now: today, we can know God at home, we can know Him in the supermarket, we can know Him wherever we are, because the Spirit has come – the same Spirit who transformed the disciples from being ineffective and scared to courageous and powerful.

We can look at the day of Pentecost and wonder where we fit in and how it relates to us. Was it just for those disciples because they walked with Jesus? For the rest of us, is there anything more after we have been saved? We read in Acts 8:12-17 that there was a group of Christians who had not received the Holy Spirit – there was a delay between their moment of conversion and their baptism in the Spirit. The Apostle Paul was converted on the Damascus road, but wasn’t filled with the Spirit until three days later (see Acts 9:17). Likewise, a group of disciples in Ephesus weren’t filled with the Spirit until Paul laid hands on them (Acts 19).

There was a supernatural dimension that followed the laying on of hands. The teaching that says you receive everything at conversion is not true for everyone – we can at least say that. The examples above show us that for some, there is a subsequent empowering that takes place as they are filled with the Holy Spirit. In the Bible, followers of Jesus didn’t grow into the things of the Spirit or have them gradually released within them – no, they were filled and empowered in a moment.

Another school of thought says that we wait and then the Spirit comes, but after the day of Pentecost no one else was told to wait. The reason the first disciples had to wait was because Jesus had not yet been glorified (John 7:37-39), but now He has! (Acts 2:32-33) So from then on the disciples just laid hands on Christians – some who had just been saved moments earlier – and the Spirit came. There was no delay; there is no longer a ‘not yet’.

Jesus didn’t tell them to wait because they weren’t ready; He told them to wait because He was not yet glorified. But now He is, so the Spirit can fill you right now. You don’t have to wait; you don’t have to be special; you don’t have to have everything in your life sorted out. Simon Peter was a mess who had just denied Jesus three times – he was not a very good Christian. You just have to come to Jesus, believing in Him, receiving the promise of the Spirit by faith (Galatians 3:2). And when you are filled with the Spirit, you will be transformed. God wants to empower us – the promise is for you!

Terry Virgo

Posted by Terry Virgo



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